FCS Community Update for August 19, 2021
August 19 Post-Meeting Update
The Fulton County School Board met on Thursday, August 19, for its regularly scheduled Board Meeting at the South Learning Center. Following are highlights of some of the more highly discussed topics, with the full agenda available online. Other topics discussed or approved are available via BoardDocs.
The upward trend of COVID-19 cases continues in all the cities and in most zip codes in Fulton County, as well as in the Metro Atlanta jurisdictions. Superintendent Mike Looney reassured the Board that FCS is providing a safe learning environment for students and staff and will continue to provide layers of treatment and mitigation based on community spread. He emphasized the district is doing everything possible to maintain a face-to-face learning environment with minimum interruptions and will not pivot to remote learning until it is determined it can no longer have school from an operational standpoint or if there are cluster breakouts where a safe learning environment cannot be provided. He went on to say pivoting to virtual learning is the last option after the district has exhausted every possible way to keep face-to-face instruction.
Looney then discussed updated guidance regarding the School Closing Matrix. Introduced last school year, the FCS Closing Matrix is used to determine whether a school should convert temporarily to remote learning. The matrix was effective in handling school situations locally, so learning is not disrupted for the school system’s entire 90,000+ student population. The district will review local data to make school closure decisions. Closure decisions will be made at the lowest level possible (classroom, grade level, team, etc.) to prevent the disruption of face-to-face instruction, and will be based upon guidance and data from partnering public health agencies.
FCS continues to ask parents to report when their student has been tested. Please refer to the following guidance for reporting:
- Use portals to report pending tests, positive test results, and direct exposures outside of FCS.
- If you are awaiting test results, have a negative test, and/or are asymptomatic, your student may continue to report to school with a mask.
- If you are symptomatic or have a positive test, you are not to report to school.
Parents must use the Parent Reporting Portal to make a COVID-19 report. FCS will only send notifications for direct contact exposures at FCS facilities.
Looney also informed the Board that FCS has authorized additional nursing resources to augment staff providing contact tracing and the contact tracing system is being refined and updated as guidance received from public health changes. Additionally, the district is discussing creative solutions, like working with partners, to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccinations, and encourages all students/employees to get vaccinated. See the full presentation here.
Learning Supports During Quarantine
FCS is dedicated to making sure students receive uninterrupted learning while in quarantine. The district has taken a number of steps to help quarantined students keep up with their coursework. Students will be provided class learning materials, and teachers will stay in close contact with families. By August 30 students will also be provided the opportunity to receive three hours of tutoring with a third-party tutoring partner during the quarantine period. Additionally, students can participate in extended day learning activities.
FCS Bridge Plan
Montreal Bell, director, Federal Programs - CARES/ARP, provided an update on the FCS Bridge Plan, the district's strategy for addressing the learning gap created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The three-year plan leverages funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), of which FCS received $168 million, to help schools recover from COVID-19. Combined with CARES I, CARES II and smaller related CARES grants, FCS will implement the multi-year program to address the impact of the pandemic on lost instruction and learning, and centers on ensuring the safety of students, staff, and families.
Bell shared data about the district's summer school program, its largest ever, serving 17,287 students in June and July with 1,979 staff members. She also announced the GA Department of Education (GaDOE) has approved the first version of Fulton's American Rescue Plan application. The K-2 virtual expansion and the K-8 learning hub initiatives have been added to the ARP plan for state approval. FCS is still waiting for final budget approval from GaDOE for CARES II and ARP. The Board will continue to be updated on the Bridge Plan in the coming weeks. See the presentation here. For questions, please email ARP_ESSER@fultonschools.org.
State Releases 2020-21 Georgia Milestones Test Scores
Chief Academic Officer Clifford Jones presented information on the 2020-21 Milestones test scores, which were released by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE).
The assessment provides information about how well students are mastering the state-adopted content standards in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. The test measures students' performance in a typical educational environment.
In a traditional year, the data would be compared to other districts and past years to determine gains in achievement or areas needing improvement; however, due to COVID-19, 2020 was not a traditional year and therefore, testing should not be viewed as comparable in the typical manner. Jones said the scores are atypical for many reasons. First, student participation rates dropped dramatically during the 2021-22 school year. Secondly, FCS results captured mainly face-to-face students even though schools provided testing options for remote learning families, including after school and weekend options.
The results can be useful for individual assessment and parents can view results for their students through the FCS website in the SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Data System). Individual student reports can also be downloaded from SLDS. Parents can access SLDS through Infinite Campus at https://www.fultonschools.org/infinitecampus. See the full presentation See the full presentation here.
The fifth installment in our sesquicentennial video series reflects on the people who make our school system work. From custodians and counselors to lunchrooms and libraries, support staff members make up a vast network of departments extending to all corners of the county, all working in unison to support the needs of our students both inside and outside the classroom. Watch the video.